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Book Review: Night And Day by Robert B. Parker

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Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series has consistently built upon the world he created within the books. New readers are encouraged, especially with this new book, to begin reading with the first one in this series. The characters change and grow, not just Jesse, but Suit, Molly, and the others that live in Paradise, Massachusetts. Stone, and Parker, have settled into the role of small town police chief in what now feels like a natural fit. The police procedural parts are good, steeped in observation and patience, two of a police officer’s greatest assets. Forensics doesn’t play a major role in these books.

One of the best things I have enjoyed about this series, and I’ve come to truly appreciate, is the fact that most of the cases seems to revolve around sex and gender. And yes, those are two very separate things. Parker keeps them separate as well. Sex is a physical act, and gender is a physical and emotional state of being.

The Jesse Stone novels have become more and more an examination of how people deal with each other on a sexual level as well as emotional expectations. Of course, that has been the main crux of Jesse’s personal problems. He has an ex wife that he loves, Jenn, but can’t get over her even though she cheats on him again and again.

In Night and Day, Jesse Stone deals with a peeping Tom who breaks into homes while the wife is alone. He forces the women strip, then takes pictures of them. Stone begins wondering why men are wired to relish a woman’s nudity while women don’t maintain the same interests. His questions and his views are informative and engaging without being professorial. I hadn’t thought about this male trait that much myself. After having spent 50 years as a male, I just accepted it. Upon reading the book, I found myself talking my wife and friends, male as well as female, about this predilection of the male of the species.

In addition to delivering thought-provoking material, Parker also delivers a fast-paced tale of investigation and deduction. As usual, the dialogue is crisp and dead on. No one writes dialogue as pared down to the bone as Parker. This is excellent in the prose form, but I have noticed that it’s somewhat detrimental when listening to the stories on audio book. I really recommend reading these books and enjoying them as audio books on a second go around.

The opening pages of the book are rather shocking. I know our generation has become overly protective of our children, but I couldn’t imagine my daughter going through a panty check while in high school. I would’ve had someone’s head. I don’t recall the story like this in the news lately, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that I had missed one.

Parker handles all of this well, but it’s just enough to make you think deeply about both sides of the issues. As he mentions of the book, schools are being expected to raise children more and more as parents duck those responsibilities. My wife is a fourth grade schoolteacher, so I’m very familiar with the problems out there. This is just a small point that Parker touches on the book, but it’s one that needs more discussion.

I have to admit, that over the last few books I’ve gotten thoroughly irritated at Jenn and her whining ways. And I’ve got irritated with Jesse for putting up with them. A new crisis dawns in this arena again, which is no surprise, but things are different somewhat and I’m more interested than ever in seeing the next book. Also, Sunny Randle, Parker’s female private eye, returns to the series for cameos in this book. She brings along her best friend Spike for another heartwarming cameo.

Tom Selleck plays Jesse Stone in made-for-television movies on CBS. The latest movie, Jesse Stone: Thin Ice, debuts this Sunday, March 1. This is an original story, not based on one of the novels.

I had a great time with this novel, but like with all of Parker’s works, I was finished much too soon. But there will be at least three more Parker books the rest of this year, so I have a lot of good reading to look forward to.

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